A flat amended 2018 and 2019 budget proposal by Governor Deal for Georgia’s older citizens has the Georgia Council on Aging and CO-AGE (Coalition for Georgia’s Elderly) doing a lot of visiting with legislators at the state capitol during the current session.
Of special concern is funding for the state’s network of Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRCs).
Lawrenceville resident Maureen Kelly, legislative chair for the Georgia Council on Aging, is at the capitol at least two days a week working to help legislators understand the importance of funding the $4M they are asking for ADRC.
“Funding for ADRC is extremely important,” Kelly stated. “These centers provide information and referral services to older adults and persons with disabilities to help them navigate complex public and private programs to get the help they need. The 12 Area Agencies on Aging and the nine Centers for Independent Living around the state have staff dedicated to taking phone calls. These staff, supported by a database with in-depth information of more than 20,000 services and providers in the state, assess individual needs and resources, provide information and referrals and advise on eligibility.”
Kelly explained that since aging affects every aspect of a society, the funding they are requesting is an investment that better positions Georgia to respond to the shifting demographics. To demonstrate, she added that in FY2017 the 21 ADRC sites served more than 95,000 clients including 72,000 older adults and 23,000 individuals with physical, developmental or behavioral disabilities.
“More than 80% of these inquiries were satisfied with information or referrals to private pay services,” she explained. “The increase in the older population and the end of two federal grants has created a crisis in funding for the ADRC, with funding decreasing by nine percent from FY 2016 to FY 2017.
“Funding of $4 million would strengthen the ADRC statewide network by adding capacity in labor and technology to meet the growing demand for crucial information.”
Kathy Floyd, executive director of the Georgia Council on Aging, works with Kelly and others in their efforts to advocate for vital services. “We’re keeping our fingers crossed that the $4 million we’ve pushed for will be included in the budget and we continue to talk to legislators about how important these funds are for keeping older adults safe in the community,” she said.
“Without the funding, phone calls will go unanswered or returned.”
Aging affects every aspect of society and these funding investments better position Georgia to respond to this shifting demographic according to Kelly, a huge advocate for the elderly, who have been working to improve lives of seniors for more than 25 years.
“The ADRC is a lifeline for people seeking information about where to turn to get services for their loved ones at the right time,” Kelly concluded.
“It’s a reliable link for people to navigate troubled waters when an older adult needs help.”
There are ADRCs offering information and resources in Area Agencies on Aging across the country, as well as, as local partners such as Gwinnett Senior Services. To find the number for your local ADRC, go to eldercare.gov, enter your zip code and look for the information line.